Knowing the customer is critical to business success

By Linda Findlay

Retail Capital was set up in South Africa to provide businesses with an alternative source of funding to traditional small business bank loans.  The aim was to help specific types of businesses, such as restaurants, retailers, beauty spas and medical practices to manage their cash flow more effectively.

Prior to the business launch, BVA BDRC was commissioned to conduct exploratory research in one of the company’s key target customer groups – the restaurant segment.  Specifically, Retail Capital wanted to gain a thorough understanding of the financial needs of the segment, including sources of business funding currently used, and perceptions of South African banks in supporting the restaurant industry.  The research was also used to gauge response to the key features of Retail Capital’s new-to-market product.

The research was carried out via a series of semi-structured face to face interviews and feedback was provided in an interactive presentation and reporting workshop.  The detailed research findings provided an excellent overview of the needs of the sector and highlighted specific issues which Retail Capital was able to harness in its marketing communications and sales approaches.

One of our early respondents was so enthusiastic about the product concept that he urged us to put him in touch with the research sponsor (who was anonymous at that point).  He subsequently went on to become one of Retail Capital’s first customers! Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength and, to date, has advanced nearly ZAR 1 billion to thousands of South African businesses.

“We worked closely with Linda and her team to ensure that our requirements were clearly defined and then developed into the interview structure to provide the insight that we needed. The BVA BDRC team were easy to work with, professional and insightful. They added value in structuring the requirements, interpreting and presenting their findings and provided thoughts on how our marketing and product could be developed to gain advantage from the research findings. I would have no hesitation in recommending BVA BDRC”

David Lewis, CEO, Retail Capital